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NEWS | Jan. 20, 2021

Norfolk Naval Shipyard Hosts Virtual Celebration in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Kristi Britt, Public Affairs Specialist

                Every year in January, the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY) African American Employee Resource Group (AA-ERG) hosts its annual celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., celebrating his life and accomplishments while also recognizing the federal holiday as a day of service and a time to remember, celebrate, and act. In the wake of the ongoing pandemic, it was clear it would be difficult to host the ceremony like years past – so the AA-ERG took charge in developing a virtual event filmed by NNSY’s Instructional Design Center (Code 1170).

“It was important for us to find a way to continue our annual celebration and to bring our workforce together in whatever way we could while remaining safe,” said AA-ERG Chair Michael Taylor. “Our team brainstormed ideas and decided to film the program in segments to be included in our first-ever virtual event. The celebration also provides our audience with the opportunity to see this program at any time, so that they don’t miss what’s being shared. It was a big step for us and I’m happy we were able to make it happen.”

                While following NNSY COVID-19 guidelines, the virtual event was filmed with participants individually, featuring Shipyard Commander Capt. Dianna Wolfson, Taylor, AA-ERG Co-Chair Ciara Mason, Vocalist Michael Bauswell, and guest speaker Minister Rashad Cartwright of the Experience Life Church in Hampton and Little Piney Grove Baptist Church, the oldest African American Baptist Church in Virginia Beach. The event premiered Jan. 20 at 11 a.m. on NNSY’s social media platforms and Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS).

                “Dr. King took tremendous strides to advance civil rights, and inspired our community and country to commit to service, promote the disadvantaged and encourage unity,” said Capt. Wolfson. “His efforts were joined by many others who fought every day to bring equality for all. His words echoed across the country, powerful statements bringing a call to action for others to do their part. With the recent civil unrest in our country, we should each remember his resounding call for equality for all and judging one by the content of their character.  If anything, Dr. King’s words are more important than ever today.”

Minister Cartwright shared his thoughts on the dedication to service, as well as Dr. King’s legacy as someone who wasn’t afraid to challenge social inequality. “Dr. King lived his life not only for the service of himself but for the service of others. Because true service is the care and consideration one has for the need of others. When we think of the word service – in many ways it is a synonym of the word discomfort. Because true service for a cause, community, or culture causes one to have discomfort,” said Minister Cartwright. “I tell you if there is one word that is manipulative in the English dictionary – it is the word comfortable. Because being too comfortable will keep you hindered. Comfortable will stop your potential for growth. Comfortable will keep people stuck in stagnation when greatness is calling their name. Dr. King knew better than anyone to make a difference, you have to get a little uncomfortable.”

He continued, “I hope that we all can strive to get a little uncomfortable, to be an agitator, to make a difference - whether it be to feed every child or ensure justice across our land until there is equality for all. Think of it like a washing machine. When you have a stain that is too great, you need some agitation to remove it. Be the agitator. Help make a difference.”

Capt. Wolfson added, “At America’s Shipyard, we work together as a team leveraging our ideas and our innovations in ship repair and modernization. We are nearly 11,000-members strong and each one of us has an important role to play in maximizing the mission. We are a melting pot of different cultures, ethnicities, genders, races, and more – all coming together to support the U.S. Navy. We are all unique individuals who are key players on the great team that make our shipyard so great. It’s up to every one of us to take care of one another at our shipyard – showing each other the utmost respect and striving each day to do the right thing. We truly are ONE team serving ONE mission.”

You can watch the video on the NNSY Facebook page at, the NNSY YouTube page at on DVIDS at